The Hardest Post To Write and a New Chapter of The Voice In The Forest

The Hard Part

Hi Everybody,
Last week, while many people here in the United States were cutting into a turkey and thinking about what they were grateful for with their family and friends, I was mourning mine.
One of my family members, someone we loved very much, passed away last Thursday morning.
We knew it was coming. He had been battling health challenges for over two years. And he went into the hospital in trouble the weekend before his death. But I have come to understand that it doesn’t matter how much you think you’re preparing, no such thing exists.
I have lost people I loved between one breath and the next, in the time it takes to fall to the ground from standing with a coffee cup in your hands.
I have lost people I loved to violence while I still thought they would come home, they were gone the entire time I still held that fragile last match of hope even though it burned my fingers to keep it alight.
And somehow, among those losses, I still naively thought I was prepared for this one.
But on Tuesday before Thanksgiving when his son said, “I don’t want my dad to die on Thanksgiving.” I told him, “No one wants their dad to die at all.” I think that is the point.
We don’t want our loved ones to die. We want them to live forever in a way we can hold and touch and see and feel that is outside our memories and our hearts.
For now, all I can do is hope you all hold your loved ones a little closer for those of us who are dealing with the fresh reality of not being able to. 

Final NaNo Accounting

I am not quite done with the romance book, as you can imagine it is difficult to be in the right head space for that right now.
Pro tip: if you’re going to write a Hallmarkian sweet romance, now is a good time of year to watch said channel in a desperate attempt to get your head in the right place for it…. I’m still having trouble with that.
So, for this week, I wrote the chapter of The Voice In The Forest out of order.
I knew I needed to write this scene, that it was coming eventually, but I have no idea which number chapter this will end up being. It was just something I needed to do.

The Voice In The Forest

Chapter ?

Was it real? 

This weight on my shoulders?

Far beyond the black wool of my dress, the way it felt along my arms, the frigid air itself was thick and heavy along my skin.

Even the words of the clergyman who spoke about going home and made metaphors that my mother wouldn’t have understood, fell on my ears as hard as an old growth tree slamming into the ground.

But the one thing where I found the light wasn’t in the low gray clouds or the false sniffles around me of the gathered mourners. 

No. It was in the hand that rested on mine and the arm supporting my back.

It didn’t matter that the rest of the people present at my mother’s graveside couldn’t see him.

Because I could.

And his presence, the fact that I knew he was there only for me, meant that even as the stones of the day, the weight of everyone and everything happening around me settled down upon my head, he was there to help me carry it.

“Don’t respond to me,” Montgomery whispered in my ear, his voice a salve for the wounds my mother caused that would never heal now. “But as soon as you want, just say you’re tired and if you add a touch to your head with it I’ll make some kind of distraction.”

The thought of him making a distraction, a phantom something happening at my mother’s funeral as everyone looked on made me bite my lip to hold in laughter. 

Wildly inappropriate laughter. 

Maybe, if I did laugh, mother would come back to haunt me and I could have the kind of conversations with her I wanted to.

Hell, maybe if that happened she would finally believe me when I said that what I saw was real and sending me to the hospital and the doctors for all those years was a mistake.

Although, her relenting even then was unlikely.

I sighed and leaned further into Montgomery’s embrace. 

How was I supposed to mourn for the loss of someone, someone I did love, when every time I thought about them at all I remembered all the ways in which they hurt me? All the ways in which they targeted me for pain for their own reasons because of who I was and something I couldn’t change?

For most of my life I hated myself and believed myself to be someone to be ashamed of because of my mother, how was I supposed to mourn the end of that influence?

The answer, at least for me in that moment, was that I didn’t mourn that part of her or our past. I couldn’t. I was happy to be without it.

But… I couldn’t stop mourning the mother I had for a such a short time as a small child. I couldn’t help but miss the way I wanted us to be. The mother I hoped she would still be one day.

Now, all of that possibility, all the ways in which I could make that real in my life and all the things we needed to talk through were gone.

Shaking my head and looking down at Montgomery’s hand on mine, I realized they weren’t gone.

They were in a silver casket with mother of pearl inlay festooned in more flowers than most weddings and about to be lowered into the ground of the woods near the manor.

All of it was so close, I could still stand and reach out to touch it, but it was now so far beyond the grasp of anyone in this world.

Maybe I should have allowed them to bury her in the family crypt. Especially since she died on this property.

But I wanted my mother to have her own place. And she loved this house. For all the wrong reasons, but she loved it just the same. 

For some reason, I didn’t think I could have handled doing this, being here for my mother, without Montgomery with me.

And we knew, this was the only place we could make that happen.

“Why?” I whispered under my breath, staring at a white rose that dipped low out of the arrangement on top of the casket.

“Your mother loved you, in her way,” Trenton whispered on the other side of me, nodding his head and wiping away a tear with the hanky in his hand he kept wrapping and rewrapping around his fingers.

“But why did she do this?” It was the same question I kept asking him, and the one he had no answer to.

He took in a shuddering, shaky breath and squeezed his eyes shut. He looked like a man who was fighting to stay conscious after receiving a mortal wound.

“She didn’t intend to,” he said, a touch too loud. 

I nodded, although I wasn’t sure I believed him.

For Trenton, believing that she didn’t intend to get blind drunk and wander into the lake in the middle of the night to drown was some kind of security blanket, some kind of help.

But I couldn’t see it that way. 

Not that I understood why I wasn’t able to go along with him.

I just wasn’t.

Whether she intended to drown, I didn’t know.

But my mother had never, not one time since she moved into the manor, been out into the woods as far as I knew. Let alone on her own.

Something made her go out there.

And something made her do it while she was so intoxicated according to her blood alcohol level, it was shocking she could stand. 

The only thing I knew to be out in the forest, was the lake.

For some reason, that lake, the same one that Montgomery was drawn to over and over again, kept popping into my mind and coming up as important to the people in my world and the manor itself.

Hidden by the sunglasses I wore to avoid some of the people present around me, I looked to Montgomery and studied the curve of his jaw.

No matter how monumental this was, how hard it was to lose my mother, I needed to get back to the search to understand what happened to him.

Even though I didn’t want to lose him too, the echo of his still mysterious death and mourning in the death of my mother, and the little we knew of his life so far, made me think maybe there was a connection.

I just needed to find it.

Ta da!

I hope this makes up for my lack last week. It is the first one I have missed in almost a year, but this was a tough week.

Here’s to a better December.

As always, happy reading!

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